Recycle for free Beer

After reading the book Nudge I have been noticing “nudges” all around me. Governments and organisations not making us do things for our own good, but just helping us decide to do the right thing on our own by presenting choices in a different light.

So I was amazed and inspired by the amount of nudges that were on display at the Rock Wercheter festival in Belgium yesterday (see the full awesome line-up that included Blink 182, the Cure and Justice).

Recycle for FREE beer

By far one of the best nudges I have ever seen (in my opinion even worthy of a mention in the Nudge book) is Coca-Cola’s campaign to promote their new “plant bottle”, which is 100% recyclable (DISCLAIMER: I am not endorsing Coke, I hardly ever buy their products; I am simply impressed by their campaign).

In short, the campaign offered you a free bag (made from recycled coke bottles) which you could use to pick up plastic cups and bottles. For every 20 you brought back, they would give you one voucher for a free drink (beer or cool-drink). One beer costed 2.5 euros, so if it takes us 6 minutes to earn one voucher (this is roughly how long it took), then we should be recycling if we value our time at 25 euros per hour or less (because that is the amount of value we could accumulate in an hour).

Of course we have to assume diminishing returns and a trade-off between partying and collecting, but economic theory predicts (very accurately in this case) that there will be an equilibrium because some people value their time differently and others will assign greater value to some rock bands over others – suggesting there will ALWAYS be someone collecting but never everyone (which is ideal because if too many collect or too few then this system fails).

The end result and why this is a great nudge

While for us the value gained was approximately 25 euro’s per hour (at the expense of time we could have spent doing something else) the cost to the organisers is probably one tenth of that (the cost of ten 300ml cups of beer). So, the organisers also have a strong incentive for this campaign to work because the alternative (paying someone to clean) would cost more – at the very least a basic wage. Don’t forget that we have an incentive to pick quickly because we do not want to spend too much time doing this (and because we want more beer) while employees would have an incentive to work slowly to earn more money.

But what about the real nudge hiding behind the apparent one (free beer if you recycle)? In my opinion (watching my brother’s teenage friends collect bottles and cups), the end result was a clear positive association for recycling. The idea not only stuck, it also drove behaviour. It shows that people can be inspired to recycle through an immediate short term gain, at a low cost and without the need of punishment or social disapproval (which are two common ways people are currently motivated to recycle).

By the end of the night not only were there almost no bottles remaining anywhere in sight, but we had saved 30 or so euros in free drinks. We did all this during the intervals so missed none of the sets. Our trade off was between the time spent doing very little and the time spent earning free beer). Coca Cola anchored themselves as a recycling company in my mind and I feel good about recycling in general. The organisers also saved on cleaning costs at the cost of around 5 pints of beer (10 cups) per hour.

This is why I love economics, an effective and beautiful CSR campaign inspired by economic incentives, nudges, sticky ideas and decision making equilibrium.

More about this here:

Cheap Diamonds – our first money keywords

From the good to the bad – Our first attempt to optimise a money keyword/phrase – “cheap diamonds“.

We are on our way to a full recovery following our first ever Google Slap.

I have also just found out about the so called “money keywords” and how we can find them for Diamonds in Africa.

Money keywords are those keywords that are either on the top of the 2nd page of Google results or just below the fold on the first page.

With a little SEO push it is possible to convert those keywords into really good sources of traffic.

That is just what we plan to do. Our phrase is cheap diamonds and we are about to begin a big push to get it to the top of the search results.

Google Slap = “what we need to do more of” strategy

We recently got our first ever Google “slap” a few weeks ago when Google  launched the Penguin update to their search algorithm.

So many people posted solutions and possible interpretations of the algorithm changes and we tried everything they recommended. For the most part, we have now recovered.

Now, looking forward I have pointed a few things (having read this article) that we NEED TO DO, moving forward – things that will not only ensure we avoid future slaps, but also things that may help us win the SEO battles ahead:

  1. Publish content that gets natural links because it just is INTERESTING – ensuring people we don’t even know are doing the SEO work for us.
  2. Build links slowly and consistently – not too fast and not in short bursts. A link a day keeps the Google slap away
  3. Build deep links – not just to the homepage as this looks suspicious
  4. Vary anchor text – avoid using only your url.
  5. Focus on more than PageRank for links – look at age & content quality (sites whose PR will likely go up too)
  6. Conduct competitive anaylsis for link sources – who our competitors are using
For Diamonds in Africa we are completely reviewing our link building strategy and for Rare Pink we are likely to start off with this new strategy very soon.